Israel’s rapprochement with Turkey via Qatar

NATO member Turkey has lately forged close military and defense industry ties with Qatar, unique in nature compared to similar cooperation agreements that Ankara struck with other non-alliance members.
Turkey will establish a military base in Qatar as indicated in Turkeyand’s Official Gazette published on June 8. Hence, Qatar will become the first foreign country that Turkey will have a base in outside its territory if the Turkish military presence in northern Cyprus is excluded. The Turkish government earlier said that the move was in line with Turkeyand’s strategic perspective in enabling political, economic and military influence bilaterally with Qatar as well as regionally. The same agreement also envisages the deployment of Qatari troops on Turkish soil. But I will focus on a highly likely link between the Turkish military presence in Qatar and Israel, with which the current Turkish caretaker government severed its ties a few years ago.
According to the Official Gazette, under the agreement enacted into law in March of this year that stipulates cooperation in military training, the defense industry and the deployment of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) in the territory of Qatar, Turkey will use the ports, airports and airspace as well as military facilities of Qatar. The military base in Qatar where Turkish land, air and special commando units will be deployed will be at the level of a brigade. A Turkish brigadier general will be appointed as the commander of the base. Turkish aircraft and ships will be among the military hardware that Turkey will deploy in this country. The purpose of this agreement is to establish a mechanism to strengthen cooperation in the fields of military training, the defense industry, joint military exercises and the deployment of forces between Turkey and Qatar, said the Official Gazette, which published the agreement in Turkish, English and Arabic. The provisions of the agreement, which will remain in force for a period of 10 years and be renewed automatically each year unless terminated by either party, shall not affect the obligations of Turkey and Qatar arising from other bilateral and multilateral international agreements, it said.
At the time when the bill that stipulated close military ties with Qatar was being debated by Parliamentand’s Foreign Affairs Commission, opposition parties believed that behind the law lies Turkeyand’s training of Syrian opposition elements in Qatar as part of the US-led train-and-equip program. Turkey has previously signed an agreement with the United States to train and equip Syrian opposition forces on its soil.
Aytui Atici, a deputy from the main opposition Republican Peopleand’s Party (CHP), has claimed that a Turkish troop deployment in Qatar is also aimed at giving Turkish forces an international task force mission under the US Central Command (CENTCOM), which is based in Qatar.
The parliamentary commission released a statement on March 19 in response to opposition criticism, ruling out any linkage between the law on Turkish-Qatari military cooperation with either the US train-and-equip program or CENTCOM.
Yet opposition deputies have stressed the unusual nature of the law in stipulating the deployment of Turkish troops in Qatar.
andquotNormally the government should seek to send troops abroad through a decree to be submitted to Parliament,andquot said then-CHP deputy and retired Ambassador Osman Korutandurk.
The above-mentioned Turkish opposition criticism leveled at the government has, however, missed a possible actor behind this agreement struck between Turkey and Qatar, which I strongly believe is Israel.
It is no secret that Muslim Qatar has a unique, good relationship with Jewish Israel in the Middle East, the countries of which the latter has constant tension with.
In 1997 Muslim-majority Turkey, meanwhile, forged very close political, economic as well as military ties with Israel. Turkey had a long history of awarding significant defense contracts to Israel. It has been estimated that since the early 1990s Turkey has awarded more than $3 billion worth of defense contracts to Israeli firms.
However, Turkey, under the rule of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) for 13 years before it lost its majority in the June 7 national election, severed its ties with Israel in 2010. This is the year that bilateral relations deteriorated when Israeli commandos raided a Turkish ship, the Mavi Marmara, as it was trying to break Israeland’s blockade of Gaza to deliver supplies. The Turkish government suspended military and defense trade with Israel while maintaining trade ties.
Turkeyand’s mutual trade volume with Israel reached over $5.6 billion in 2014 — a nearly 50 percent increase from 2009 — despite severed military and political relations between the two, according to data from the Turkish Statistics Institute (TandurkStat).
To break an impasse in political and military relations with Turkey it is now highly possible that Israel played a significant role in pushing Qatar, with which it has a good relationship, to agree on a significant Turkish military presence on its soil. This policy of Israel is understood to have been supported by the US, a close ally of Turkey, Qatar and Israel.
The Turkish military, seeking to make its influence felt internationally, will love a base in Qatar.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman